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It's always hard to remain critical of a band you love, but I guess it has to be done. 'Ascendence' starts off where the singer/guitarist, 'Lord' Tim's previous band, Dungeon's final album left off, with the intro track "Echoes Of The Past". Opening words on the album, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust", a true goodbye to Dungeon's long and fruitful career. From the intro, a massive buildup to possibly one of the finest openers in Australian metals history, "Reborn". Mind boggling riffing and 'Lord' Tim's immensely powerful vocals are as prevalent as ever. Next up is "Going Down", which opens with a strong melody, that is rather reminiscent of Dungeon's previous works.
It's a all-out sonic blast until the fifth track, "Rain" brings the mood, and tempo, down. Opening with the sounds of thunder and rain, this track is slow and very melodic, but is certainly a contender for track of the album. With an amazing guest solo from Sydney guitarist Chris Brookes, who has previously worked with members from Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force and Black Sabbath, the track is truly complete. After a couple of more instant-classic metal tracks, Lord blow the shit out of listeners with the obviously Slayer-inspired "Limb From Limb".
Following the sonic blast that is "Limb From Limb", the band speed things up even further with the instrumental track "220", which is exactly that, 2:20 in length and 220BPM. This track features a guest solo by Frombeyond guitarist (and current Lord guitarist, who joined after the album was completed), Mark Furtner. After what is most likely the heaviest track of the album, Lord finalize what has been their finest opus yet with the epic, "Legacy", that explains that even though Dungeon is no more, the spirit that was once with them, and the catch-cry "100% Pure Aussie Heavy Metal" stay with the new band.
Broken Hill is a small desert community 1,100 km west of Sydney. This mining town has metal in its veins. It has the largest lead-zinc-silver deposit in the world, provided the location for Mad Max 2: the Road Warrior and given birth to Lord Tim, the founder of Lord.
Ascendence is the best power metal album I have heard in a long time. Being Australian, they blend the finest of Europe and the US, mixing continental melody with Yankee crunch. The closest band to Lord’s sound is Mystic Prophecy from Germany. Lord is better.
Ascendence’s 12 songs contain sufficient diversity to keep the listener’s interest throughout the entire disc. The highlights include ‘Reborn’ which is a solid representation of where Lord is coming from and where they are going. This is about big choruses and tight, well executed songs that don’t overstay their welcome.
‘Through the Fire’ and ‘Rain’ stand out, not least because of the distinctive soloing from guest lead guitarist Chris Brooks. ‘Limb from Limb’ is huge, bordering on thrash with gang vocals and a throat tearing delivery. This deserves to be a classic in the live setlist.
‘220’ gives Dragonforce a lesson in frenetic finger bleeding fretboard fury and ‘Legacy’ closes the album in an epic manner with a poignant outro.
Lord really is a new beginning. The production is improved (although I’d like to hear more bass) and the cover art is fantastic. The entire package is completed with liner notes, lyrics and photos.
I have only minor criticisms. I suspect that the introspective lyrics are meant to differentiate Lord from Dungeon. However, by the end of the album I felt like I’d signed up for a Tony Robbins motivational course. Perhaps the next release will be an opportunity to mix it up with material similar to Gallipoli and Curse of the Pharaohs.
Lord has delivered the gutsiest power metal album of the year with Ascendence. The Lord is risen.
Since taking delivery of the 2007 released Ascendence I've become completely addicted to power metal. Sure, I was a Dungeon fan before and sad to see them go, however, LORD has succeeded in no uncertain terms in filling the huge vacuum left after Dungeon was laid to rest. They're in touch with their fans daily via the online forum at http://www.lord.net.au, you can hear ascendence samples at http://www.myspace.com/lordaus or view videos of their live performances at http://www.youtube.com/LORDofficial.
From the time you open the case you know these guys have gone all out to provide a quality product. The booklet is printed on thicker than normal paper and is beautifully glossy. The cover art is awesome and ties in well with the headline track. On to the music.
Echoes Of The Past - One of those non-musical scene setting tracks that intros many a metal album. Aficionados will recognise the Dungeon crossover.
Reborn - This is the most powerful song on the album and IMHO the title track. Blistering rhythms, kick-ass lyrics and a wrenching solo from Lord Tim. Words can't do it justice. Just go listen to it.
Going Down - One of the things I like most about this song is the intro, the combination of three wrecking 5ths on top of the clean guitar (starting at 0:25) threatened to send me deaf since I just had to turn it up!! This idea makes a second appearance at the start of the solo, Guitar freaks- do not miss the solo at 3:12.
Same Old Lines - Featuring heavyweight guest solos from Mark Furtner and vocals from Tania Moran and Gareth Michael. This is not a song to be experienced at 192kbps, play the CD and preferably with a good amp behind it as there are hundreds vocal tracks in this one!
Rain - Lord: the band where even the ballads have balls! Watch for the break in this one- it gives me goose bumps every time I listen to it. The most innovative and emotive intro into a solo I have ever heard for a very long time. This song showcases Andy Dowling on bass and more power in the main rhythm riffs than anyone would expect from a ballad.
My Own Way - It seems that in every song Lord has managed to highlight different skills in each of the members of the band. Here is where I think Lord Tim shines on guitar, I particularly enjoyed the outro solos.
Through The Fire - A Rich, fun rocker that will piss your wife off when you can't stop singing it in the shower. The chorus has a great hook and backing vocals. I very much enjoy the rhythm guitar in this piece. There is an awesome solo by Chris Brooks- an extremely talented guitarist, don't miss his other outstanding work via his website at http://www.chrisbrooks.net. Again the outro solo on this song is outstanding.
The Calm - A breather for your ears before the assault and battery of severed limbs. Featuring an awesome blues solo over acoustic guitar. The lead is highly expressive, and does well to show how broadly talented Lord is.
Limb From Limb - This song is my personal favourite on the album. A strange departure since I've never really liked harsh vocals and had no interest in Dungeon's "Traumatised" (one of about 3 songs total from all the Dungeon albums put together that I regularly skip), and now can't get enough of the combination of fast, thrashy riffs and outstanding guitar solos. In particular, the solo lick at 4:22 has to be heard to be believed. LT fans will recognise plenty of his trademark whammy-trills in this one! I play Limb From Limb every morning on the way to work- its a bigger kick in the arse than a double espresso!
220 - Not to be outdone 220 is a tour-de-force instrumental containing blindingly fast harmonised sweep picking with a hilarious twist at the end. I sincerely hope to see Mark Furtner on stage sometime performing this one with the band!! The only thing I can compare this to (at risk of having heavy objects thrown at me) is Dragonforce- but better.
Legacy - To wind up the album is this stadium-quality anthem. Superbly arranged and featuring incredibly powerful drumming from Tim Yatras. Furthermore, the "quiet" solo interlude at 3:42 is not to be missed.
Silent Jealousy - If you've got the Japanese release then you're treated to X Japans "Silent Jealousy" performed by Lord with guest vocalist Hideaki Niwa of Vigilante. Everyone else gets an ear-blasting from the Pantera monster track "Shattered". I have the Japanese release and can say that in keeping with all the covers Dungeon did of some classic metal songs (Queen of the Reich is a personal favourite) Silent Jealousy is performed with flair and the combination of Japanese and English vocals a treat for the huge Japanese following that Dungeon had amassed.
Personally I find it difficult to make the comparisons that others have between music from other bands and the songs on Ascendence. While the band members Lord make no secret of their influences they certainly do a great job of making the styles of artists they might borrow from their own. Thus far the closest I can come is Blind Guardian, but the Ascendence lyrics have a completely different focus and I believe speak to a wider audience.
The mix is astonishing as we have come to expect from Lord Tim. In three weeks the guys put down all the tracks- some featuring seven different layers of guitar along with the aforementioned many layer vocals on "Legacy" and "Same Old Lines". The only criticism I can make is that the bass is mostly buried- it features well in "Rain" and makes an appearance in "My Own Way" but not in most of the other tracks. This may be a result of the loudness war (look it up on wiki).
I'd like to call attention for once to the superb drumming throughout the entire album. Carefully matched to each song and not to be overlooked, if you've ever written songs you'll know what an astounding difference it makes once the drums are in, welding the song together, and if you've ever tried to write metal songs you'll know just how important - and how difficult it is to get a drummer that can perform at this level.
The band acknowledged that while this is the first LORD album to go beyond frontman Lord Tim's original side-project, Ascendence contains some elements of "laying Dungeon to rest". Being the greedy pig that I am, I'm looking forward to the next 100% LORD album. Ascendence is definitely my album of the year.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and may the Lord have mercy on your souls…”, and so begins the journey of Ascendence.
For those of you not familiar with the history, LORD is half of what was formerly known as Dungeon. After disbanding at the conclusion of 2005, Lord Tim (vocals, guitars) and TY (drums) have returned, along with bass player Andy Dowling to release the much anticipated first “proper” group album under this name.
After the spoken introduction titled “Echoes Of The Past” it’s straight into “Reborn”. With an epic sounding chorus, huge guitar sounds and some driving double bass drum patterns, “Reborn” sets the bar high for the rest of the album. Lord Tim demonstrates the many different ranges of his vocal ability, and the whole band proves they can play pure heavy metal as good as the best of them. After just a few seconds you realise the anticipation for this album has all been worthwhile, and you are assured that LORD are indeed back in fighting form, picking up right where Dungeon left off.
Before even listening to “Going Down”, note the remarkably true lyrics. This is one of many things Dungeon fans will be familiar with. Upon actually hearing the song you will be tapping your feet along to this catchy track, and guitarists will be impressed by the dual guitar harmonies.
“Same Old Lines” is another catchy track, which will have you singing along to the chorus and no doubt be stuck in your head for at least the next few hours. This is a very upbeat track which showcases yet another vocal style of LT’s. The solos will leave you absolutely stunned.
Queensrÿche fans will rejoice at the sound of “Rain”, a slow, melodic song complete with a bassline intro and Geoff Tate style vocals. Just when you think this song is drawing to a close with the sampled sounds of rain, Chris Brooks takes it away with a guest solo. Due to the departure of original guitarist Mav Stevens at the end of 2006, LORD are still on their quest to find a permanent second guitarist. No need to fear though, for just one listen to “Ascendence” and you will be safely assured that in no way is this album lacking in guitar work. The enormity of the guitars is one of the first things noticeable at the initial listen. A few guest guitarists contributed solos on this album, and both guitarists and non-guitarists alike will appreciate the talent on the six-strings.
“My Own Way” has a very unique intro, however when the chorus hits, the memories of Dungeon come flowing back. TY’s drumming on this song also deserves a mention.
“Through The Fire” is definitely one to be performed live, you simply cannot hear that chorus and not sing along. Chris Brooks and Lord Tim both provide incredible solos once again.
A nice interlude appropriately named “The Calm” precedes the thunderous intro of the killer track “Limb From Limb”. This song has an astounding thrash influence, with harsh vocals and Slayer-like riffs.
“220” is a track that will leave every listener, guitarist or not, with their jaws on the floor. It’s like someone has grabbed a guitar and whacked you in the face with it. An incredibly technical 2 minute 20 second guitar solo played at 220 bpm, which is quite simply a guitarist’s dream. LT and guest guitarist Mark Furtner are lucky to still have their arms intact after recording this song. It’s quite easy to hear this song and be so overwhelmed by the guitars, but the drumming cannot be ignored. Behind this massive onslaught of guitar solos is an equally impressive drum solo taking place in the background.
The final track on the album is a confirmation that the legacy of LORD has begun. “Legacy” is a combination of everything that is LORD, and ends the album on an extremely high note.
Before the album draws entirely to a close let’s not forget the bonus track- a cover of “Shattered” by thrash metal heroes Pantera. This song was originally featured on “The Art Of Shredding: A Tribute To Dime” compilation album but has had some alterations, including redone rhythm guitars.
There is definitely great diversity on this album, no two tracks sound alike (with the intentional exception of Reborn and Legacy), meaning there is something for everyone. This album is a confirmation that the Ascendence of LORD has begun, and that the future will only bring even greater music.